sifu holding a sword at the pond

Taking Your Heart With You

Zig Ziglar used to say that many people are stressed because they are always traveling. To clarify, I don’t mean specifically traveling, I mean mentally travelling. I agree. When they are at work they are thinking about their family… then later when they are with their family, they can’t be totally committed to being with them because mentally they are worried about work, and the work they didn’t get done while they were there because they were thinking about their family. When at work, they are mentally traveling home, when they are home, they are mentally traveling to work. Zig would say, “no wonder everyone is so exhausted, they’re always travelling.

I had my own realization about this while learning Martial Arts from Grand Master Philipman Chow.

It was over 15 years ago. Our club in Scarborough had been asked to put on a Kung Fu demonstration for Chinese New Year at a cultural centre in Toronto. Sifu asked me to demonstrate a couple forms for it and I enthusiastically agreed. This was my first public demonstration as part of Grand Master Chow’s school.

I was both nervous and excited. I had 2 months to prepare, and prepare I did. Outside of my regular learning time, I would practice my demo forms every chance I got. Our club in Scarborough was very small, so I had to practice outside all through December and January. I bundled up and did my best to be outside practicing outside in between lessons, drilling the forms again and again.

Although it was hard work, it didn’t feel too much like it because I was so excited to represent our school.

In late January the weekend of the much-anticipated event, we ended up having a horrible snow storm across Southern Ontario.

Normally I would have braved it simply by leaving for Toronto a couple hours early and driving super-slow, but this was exceptionally bad with lots of accidents all along the highway. I told Sifu, which much regret, that I wouldn’t be able to make it.

By the next week the weather was fine so I made the drive back up as usual. When I got there, Sifu gave me a certificate from the organizers, thanking me for my contribution to the demonstration. Sifu said, “Here, for you.”, handing me the certificate with my name on it.

“But Sifu,” I said, sadly, “I was stuck in Niagara, I didn’t make it to the event, remember?”.

What he said next, I will never forget.

He replied with, “yes, you didn’t come but your heart did.”

Sifu knew how hard I worked preparing for it, and he knew how excited I was to participate, even though the weather prevented it. He continued, “Some people came but their heart didn’t; you couldn’t make it but your heart did.”

After he said this, I gratefully accepted the certificate, and I still have it to this day. It reminds me that wherever I go, I need to take my heart with me. I don’t want to fall into that category of people that show up but don’t send their heart with them.

It’s been said the 90% of success is showing up, but when you show up, you must bring your heart with you. By heart, I think Sifu meant intent. While showing up you need to put intention into what you are doing.

You can show up in person and not bring your heart. You can show up in heart and not be present in person. Ideally, you show up in person with your full intent (heart).

In your day-to-day activity, like work or school, this means put your mind and thoughts on where you are; what you are doing.

In Kung Fu, you must put your mind into the repetitions you are training, not just repeat them mindlessly (and therefore heartlessly).

When you learn to do this in Kung Fu, it will reflect and carry over into everything you do. When you can be present more, and “travel” less, you will find you have a lot less stress and anxiety, and more happiness and fulfillment.

Sifu Atalick
Master Instructor
Niagara Kung Fu Academy

Sifu Atalick has owned and operated the Niagara Kung Fu Academy since 2005 and has been teaching Holistic Kung Fu for 20 years. Holistic Kung Fu as taught at NKFA helps kids and adults build self-discipline, confidence, and focus, helping them to achieve higher levels of success and fulfilment academically and in their careers. He is the author of “The Art of Holistic Kung Fu

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